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EPA Ecosystems Research: About this Issue

Sunset on a lake with reeds

An epic hike through pristine forests. Helping your granddaughter land her first fish. Catching an unexpected glimpse of a bald eagle soar across the horizon. For many, any encounter with nature is a welcome and sought-after diversion from the daily routine, and an opportunity to have one of those iconic experiences that will form a lasting memory.

But what about the mostly hidden, everyday role that natural ecosystems play in our lives—from natural flood control and absorbing nutrients from stormwater runoff, to mitigating the risks of chemical exposures? That is the focus of EPA ecosystem researchers and their partners, who are exploring and quantifying how natural systems contribute to community health and stability, underpin the economy, and help protect public health.

What these researchers are learning is helping communities and decision makers across the nation account for the many benefits that ecosystems provide and calculate the long term risks and benefits of their decisions. 

A sample of that work is highlighted in this issue of EPA Science Matters.  The stories illustrate the impact that EPA ecosystem research efforts are having: providing the data, models, tools, and information that local communities need for a more sustainable, prosperous future. While the memories of those decisions may not be as apparent as watching a bald eagle soar across a mountain vista, they will be every bit as important.  

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